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NHL Draft

Matthews consensus No. 1 in latest mock draft

NHL.com experts project Laine going second, Puljujarvi third

by NHL.com @NHL / NHL.com

The Toronto Maple Leafs won the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery and NHL.com's draft experts believe they'll use it to select center Auston Matthews with the first pick of the 2016 NHL Draft.

In their latest mock drafts, Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale each envision the Maple Leafs selecting Matthews, a 6-1, 210-pound potential franchise center. 

Matthews, a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., played this season for Zurich in National League A, Switzerland's top professional league. Facing older, more developed players, some of whom had NHL experience, Matthews had 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games, and was second in voting for the league's most valuable player award. 

At the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, Matthews tied for the tournament lead with seven goals in seven games to help the United States win the bronze medal. 

He also was the first player named to the U.S. for the 2016 World Championship. 

NHL.com draft experts also agree that Finnish forwards Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi will be taken by the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets, respectively, with the second and third picks. Sarnia defenseman Jakob Chychrun will go No. 4 to the Edmonton Oilers, and London left wing Matthew Tkachuk will be taken by the Vancouver Canucks at No. 5. 

Laine helped Tappara win the championship in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, and was named playoff MVP. Laine and Puljujarvi also helped Finland win the gold medal at the WJC. Puljujarvi, 17, had 17 points in seven games, one shy of Jaromir Jagr's tournament record for an under-18 player. 

Chychrun is No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2016 draft and is the highest-rated defenseman.

Tkachuk, the son of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Keith Tkachuk, is No. 2 in Central Scouting's ranking of North American skaters. 

After the top five picks the opinions begin to vary.

The draft lottery, held Saturday, determined the order for the first 14 selections. The draft order will be finalized at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

The 2016 NHL Draft is June 24-25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. 

NHL.com Experts Mock Drafts: Kimelman | Morreale

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